We don't yet know who the next people to walk on the moon will be—but we know what they're going to be wearing. Texas-based company Axiom Space unveiled its prototype spacesuit designs Wednesday, six months after it won the contract for the first full redesign of American spacesuits since 1981, the BBC reports. The new suits, which the company calls the "Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit," are much more flexible and streamlined than their puffy predecessors, reports Reuters. Unlike earlier generations of spacesuits, they were designed with women in mind as well. NASA says the suits are designed to accommodate a broad range of wearers that would include more than 90% of Americans, male and female.
"Building on NASA’s years of research and expertise, Axiom’s next generation spacesuits will not only enable the first woman to walk on the Moon, but they will also open opportunities for more people to explore and conduct science on the Moon than ever before," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. NASA aims to have the suits ready for the Artemis III mission planned for 2025, which will be the first crewed lunar landing since 2025 and the first ever to reach the moon's south pole.
"We have a lot of tough requirements on this suit," Lara Kearney, manager of NASA's spacesuit and rovers team, said at an event to demonstrate the prototypes at Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The moon is a hostile place, and the south pole is really going to be a challenge. A lot of thermal requirements, we are looking for improved mobility so our astronauts can operate more efficiently." The suits displayed Wednesday had an outer layer of charcoal gray but Axiom says the ones that will be worn on the moon will be white to reflect sunlight and protect the wearer from extreme heat, Reuters reports. (Read more spacesuit stories.)